Eric Shea

Curation Team http://www.pandora.com/profile/eshea75

Go Skateboarding Day: Skate Rock

Ever since my first day working at Pandora, I’ve always wanted to make a Skate Rock genre station. With the 11th annual Go Skateboarding Day coming up this Sunday, I thought it might be the perfect time to drop in on this rabbit hole. As a native Californian, I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a skateboard in my possession. But it wasn’t until age 12 that I first became aware of skateboarding as a lifestyle, replete with its own soundtrack.

fc065ab0-04c8-487a-8792-daf84ab531b2_zpsvkcfdicoIt was the summer of 1983 and I was learning how to pump the transitions of a big wooden halfpipe in the North Tahoe woods when I overheard some older guys. They were talking about punk bands I’d never heard of. When I mentioned that I liked The Clash and The Jam, a guy with bleached bangs hanging over his left eye barked at me, “That British stuff’s for girls!” He told me that real skaters listened to The Misfits, Black Flag, JFA, Agent Orange and other “skate rock” bands. My next trip to Clementine’s Records in Kings Beach found me starting a skate rock collection that I still obsess over today.

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BBQ & Sing-Alongs: CMA Festival Day 4

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They said today was going to be the hottest day of CMA 2015 and they were right. Word to the wise: when the weather app on your magic rectangle tells you that it’s going to be high in the 90s, make sure to stay hydrated… with water.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 10.23.51 AMGood thing Darius Rucker was playing in the air-conditioned convention center on the CMA Close Up Stage. He was also doing a Q&A panel and talked about the songwriting and recording process. “Sometimes you’ll write 50 songs,” he said, “but you’ll have to pick 13.” He also humbly stated, “I truly believe that I was a singer in a cover band that got really lucky.” During a stripped-down acoustic rendition of “Alright,” some of the audience could be heard singing along. But of course it was when he and a fiddle player launched into his breakthrough cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel” that the entire audience lit up and joined in, singing every single lyric with him. Rucker also gave props to his influences and inspirations such as Al Green, Radney Foster, Dwight Yoakam and Miranda Lambert, whose “More Like Her” he added to his quiver of covers. Even Hootie fans were rewarded with an old-school treat when he dusted off a more countrified take on “Let Her Cry.” Read More →

CMA Festival Day 3: Women Of Country Music

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Carrie Underwood’sBlown Away,” in 2012, was the last huge chart-topper by a female country artist. Recently a radio consultant, in comparing country music to a salad, referred to male country artists as the “lettuce” and the female country artists as the “tomatoes.” Subsequently, a few of country music’s female luminaries (including Martina McBride and Jennifer Nettles) are speaking out against these remarks in an effort to put women in country music on equal footing as men, the debacle has been dubbed #TomatoGate.

GG2A9424Rootsy chanteuse Sunny Sweeney also offered her two cents on the matter with a screened a t-shirt depicting a cartoon image of her hoisting a salami over the text, “Sunny Sweeney – Breaking Up The Sausage Party.” When I heard she was playing CMA 2015 I made it a priority to see what she’s been up to. Read More →

From Kelsea Ballerini to Zac Brown Band: CMA Festival Day 2

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Contrary to Thursday, Friday showered us in sheets of rain. It was the kind of hot summer rain that finds its way into many country songs, and most of the CMA fans seemed to welcome it. As some of the Pandora crew and I ducked under a tent, Kelsea Ballerini took the stage to an enthusiastic round of hoots and hollers from her fans. I was excited to see her live, I heard that she put on an amazing show the week before at Marathon Music Works for our Pandora Country event (she opened for Dustin Lynch and Thompson Square). I was further intrigued because of recent Taylor Swift comparisons – Ballerini also writes her own songs.

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Ballerini confidently strode on stage, slung an acoustic guitar over her shoulder and sang “Yeah Boy.” Her crowd didn’t need warming up – they were instantly fervent. I paid for a cold beer and when I turned back around, the audience seemed to double in size. For a second I doubted myself but then Ballerini said, “There are so many of you! I just got word that there are over 4,000 people here right now!” And the sound of 4,000 people cheered back at her in panoramic sound. She then introduced her next number “Peter Pan” as a song about boys who didn’t want to grow up. The catchy “Dibs” got heads bobbing and the crowd sang along. But the spectacle of her set was a ‘90s mashup medley that blended Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, ‘N Sync, Backstreet Boys and Destiny’s Child. Following that she covered an especially impassioned version of Rihanna’s “Take A Bow” as her fans chanted, “Kelsea! Kelsea!” and waved their hands in the air like some kind of country-pop tent revival. Read More →

Honky Tonks, Blazing Heat, Twang & Swagger: CMA Festival Day 1

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Three members of the Pandora crew and I had just missed Kenny Chesney. He played outside on Broadway in downtown Nashville and after stepping out onto the balmy Southern night following a hearty soul-food dinner; we heard the explosion of applause to what was his last song. So the four of us decided to go honky-tonkin’ at Robert’s Western World across the street. Don Kelly Band was blazing through some old hillbilly standards with help from a 20-year-old guitar prodigy named Daniel Donato. This amazing six-string jedi looked like a young Rory Gallagher and picked a Telecaster like Don Rich on steroids.

IMG_7712But it was A Thousand Horses who really set the tone for this year’s CMA Music Festival. The band sauntered on stage over a droning organ before launching into “Landslide.” Armed with three, soulful, female, backing singers, they rocked with the timeless soul of Delaney & Bonnie through a nitty, gritty, Lynyrd Skynrd swagger. Lead guitarist Bill Satcher was kicking out the jams with a punchy tone that recalled The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion era Black Crowes. There was a palpable excitement in the crowd when Michael Hobby strapped on a Gibson acoustic guitar. After he strummed the first few chords to “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial” the audience ignited in applause. But their fans really went wild when Hobby announced that they were now going to play their number one single, “Smoke.” For a few seconds, the roar of the crowd even eclipsed the band’s audibility. After walking away from their set with “Trailer Trash” stuck in my head, I realized that A Thousand Horses is everything that I’ve ever wanted from Kid Rock and Shooter Jennings. Southern Rock is alive and well at CMA Music Festival. Read More →

Next Wave Woman: Nicki Bluhm

Nicki Bluhm and her band infuse timeless Americana with R&B grooves, soulful emotiveness and a pop sophistication that contrasts complex musicianship with catchy melodies. Where many rootsy musicians are content to recreate the past, Nicki’s music innovatively blends multiple elements into her own inimitable tone.

1029_Women_Leadership_NickiLike many talents of the 21st century, Nicki Bluhm was discovered on YouTube. She and her band The Gramblers are music lovers and music lifers – they even play and record songs while riding in their van between gigs. After posting a “van session” cover of the Hall & Oates hit “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” the video is currently approaching three million views. Read More →

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – Fan Faves and Who Should Have Made the Cut

Like most music lovers, we at Pandora are equally excited and opinionated about this year’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees. Being that our main headquarters is in Oakland, we’re extra proud that East Bay punk-pop heroes Green Day were inducted – we’re also stoked that Pandora listeners made their hit “Good Riddance” one of the top thumbed up songs from this year’s inductees! And isn’t it about time that Bill Withers made the cut? Anyone who’s seen his awesome 2009 documentary Still Bill probably agrees – as do those of you who thumbed “Ain’t No Sunshine” into our top thumbs. And you don’t have to be a “blues lawyer” to argue the importance of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s induction.

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Inside The Collection: Stoner Rock

This year, for April 20th, I made a mammoth mixtape: 420 Stoner Rock. And yes, this mix is exactly 420 songs deep with bands old and new. For the record, I can’t stand the term “stoner rock.” In my opinion, it pigeonholes an entire population of musicians as nothing more than dimwitted stoners with loud guitars. But listen to this mix and you’ll hear how the genre offers up much more. Calling something “stoner rock” reminds me of the early ‘90s when snarky music writers similarly dismissed bands like Pavement, Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh as “slacker rock.”

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 5.33.11 PMThe origins of stoner rock can be found in a movement that was coined, “desert rock.” In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s there was a community of musicians based in the Palm Desert of Southern California who blended bits of classic hard rock, blues, psychedelia, heavy metal and hardcore. This scene spawned such bands as Queens Of The Stone Age, Kyuss, Nebula, Fu Manchu and the aptly named collective The Desert Sessions. Of course the sound wasn’t just isolated to this region. For example, Monster Magnet hails from Red Bank, New Jersey. Red Fang are from Portland, Oregon and Mastodon are from Atlanta, Georgia. Northern California’s Sleep has often been regarded as the quintessential stoner rock band. They basically turned Black Sabbath into an entire genre. Read More →

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – Fan Faves and Who Should Have Made the Cut

Like most music lovers, we at Pandora are equally excited and opinionated about this year’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees. Being that our main headquarters is in Oakland, we’re extra proud that East Bay punk-pop heroes Green Day were inducted – we’re also stoked that Pandora listeners made their hit “Good Riddance” one of the top thumbed up songs from this year’s inductees! And isn’t it about time that Bill Withers made the cut? Anyone who’s seen his awesome 2009 documentary Still Bill probably agrees – as do those of you who thumbed “Ain’t No Sunshine” into our top thumbs. And you don’t have to be a “blues lawyer” to argue the importance of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s induction.

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Next Wave Woman: Chelsea Wolfe

You’d be hard-pressed to find a female singer-songwriter who appeals to metalheads and folkies alike. Chelsea Wolfe’s beautifully somber songs somehow traverse both realms. Her music has been aptly described as “drone-metal-art-folk.” She melds the dark, drones of doom metal with stark piano notes and guitar arpeggios – over which she sings in a haunting tenor trill. Her own compositions aside, she can cover the 1939 folk staple “You Are My Sunshine” alongside Burzum’s 1992 Norwegian black metal dirge “Black Spell Of Destruction” while retaining her signature sound and style.

1029_Women_Leadership_ChelseaChelsea began recording herself in her father’s home studio at age nine. When she began playing live, Chelsea preferred to perform in unorthodox locations like deserted nuclear plants, cathedrals and basements. Her lauded 2010 debut album The Grime and the Glow was recorded on a vintage eight-track. Her sophomore album Apokalypsis was tracked in a proper studio, but for Chelsea’s third full-length, Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs, she chose to record deep in the woods of Northern California. Read More →

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